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I CONFESS: I turned my back on auntie


I CONFESS: I turned my back on auntie

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UNFORTUNATELY IN LIFE we tend not to miss people until they have passed on; we tend not to appreciate them until then as well. That is my situation with my aunt, who was like a mum to me.

I really feel guilty about the way I treated her in her last days. Basically, I ignored her. I placed her in a senior citizens’ home a few years ago as I could not take care of her; but I never looked back.

She had arthritis and her memory used to go and come, so I really had no excuse not to go – but I didn’t.

Instead, I left her in there and saw her on average, four times a year. I am not proud of what I did. The people who loved and took care of you when you needed help should not be treated in that way. That is just wrong!

Looking back, I remember how, as a little girl, my mother, brother and me had to leave my father’s house because he used to get drunk and beat up mummy. He used to curse and carry on really badly.

Things to help

Mummy’s only relative here was auntie, so she went there and was taken in. Auntie was my grandad’s sister. Because auntie and grandaddy were the only members of their family living here, they were close. Grandaddy died when mummy was a teenager, so auntie would always be there for her. After mummy had us, auntie would send things to help.

Anyway, as my father got worse, my mum had nowhere else to turn but to auntie.

When we moved in, it was tougher than our life was at home. That is, though we did not have to deal with the abuse, we had to follow endless rules.

Auntie was strict about manners, going to church, saying prayers, chores, doing homework, keeping our rooms and the house clean, and being respectful.

Mummy would always joke that it was because she was so strict that she never had anyone in her life for long and never had children. But I found that auntie was a really nice person – it was just that as a school teacher, she believed in discipline.

Moved out

After about two years, my mother could no longer take her rules and she moved out. My brother, who was older, went with her, but I was left behind. So for the next 24 years I lived under her roof and watched auntie retire, grow old, get sick and then become helpless.

Saying it is one thing, but to actually see how a strong human being can deteriorate in such a short time is really hurtful. It showed me how fragile we as human beings truly are, and that is why we have to enjoy life to the fullest when we can.

My aunt lived a lonely life because she had strong views on many things, particularly on men and relationships. Because of these, she never let anyone get too close to her – that is, except me. She loved me like the daughter she never had.

She loved me so much that she willed me her house, and allowed me to handle her bank account when she was getting down.

That is why it hurts me how in those last years I completely ignored her. I just did not have time for her. It’s a pain and a sadness that I will have to live with for the rest of my life because auntie really deserved better from me; but I failed her.